Nothing Compares to EU
How can we take pride in the EU?
by Totti Sivonen
Politics these days is far from boring - it’s now a spectacle. The speeches, tweets, and campaign rallies are used not to inform, but to generate an intense emotional response. If we are being honest, this is mostly thanks to the alt-right and their breaking from political convention. It’s therefore increasingly difficult to get excited about old dusty institutions. Just look at the EU.
One of the biggest problems facing the EU is its unpopularity. In a recent trip to the European Council, Bono, the Irish singer-songwriter and philanthropist, claimed that the EU must become a ‘feeling’. Its unpopularity stems from the fact that it has not managed to establish itself as a feeling in the hearts of those who live inside its borders. Suffice to say, the alt-right does not have this problem and operates on gut feeling alone.
So why has the EU failed to do this? Why don’t we have the same fondness, the same emotional response that we do with other areas of politics?
Well, namely because it is hard to use divisive and hateful rhetoric to gain support while being all about integration and standing against discriminatory values.
So what could the EU do? What is the solution? How do you make the EU popular?
A possible, yet somewhat radical example can be found across the pond – the ‘American dream.’ It paints a picture of the Promised Land where everything is possible if you just work hard enough and trust the capitalist system. It seems as if this has worked very well to unite the Americans to support their state, as patriotism is seen as a virtue by many Americans. So could it be possible to create a ‘European dream’ similar to that of its American counterpart? Well, the American dream, quite frankly, is just an elaborate form of propaganda, and it would be much more difficult to create such an ideal here as the EU is such a diverse organisation.
Personally, I do not find the EU boring at all, and I am an enthusiastic supporter of it. However, I realize that this is not the case with many of my peers. Sure, they’d rather be a member than not, but thinking of the EU doesn’t give rise to any emotions in them. When I think of the EU, I think about the profound work done by earlier generations to integrate Europe. I think of its many capitals, its many peoples and all of its history. I am proud to be European. This, to me, is a healthy dose of nationalism.
So how could this feeling be sparked in millions of others as well, but for Europe as a whole and not just their native countries? I do not have a definitive answer to this, but a creation of a ‘European dream’, while difficult, as stated before, might be a possibility.
Most countries made themselves a ‘feeling’ with national myths, because national myths don’t seem like propaganda to most, while being exactly that, like the American dream.
So why shouldn’t the EU create a transnational myth? Maybe a healthy dose of European nationalism could help the EU to further integrate in the long run and dissolve some of the differences between its many different states.
However, it is vital to remember that in the past, European nationalism has brought with it death and destruction. So, just as with any form of nationalism, we had best make sure it doesn’t become too strong.